Airport Worker That Threatened Obama Passed Background Checks

Nick Fishman

Many organizations use employment background checks as a way to look at an individual’s past  to determine future behavior.  It can be very helpful when you find adverse or negative information.  But what if the background check doesn’t reveal any red flags?  The lack of negative information certainly stacks the odds in your favor that future behavior behavior will follow suit, but it’s not a guarantee.

Not sure if you saw this, but a Newark airport security guard was arrested for threatening to shoot President Barack Obama a day before he was supposed to fly into the that airport.  The New Jersey state police  licensed this individual and the company who hired him claimed that he passed their background check.  Let’s give both the state and the company the benefit of the doubt and say that this person was really never convicted of a crime.  Can the state or the employer be held accountable?  In my opinion, no.  They performed proper due diligence.  Remember, the lack of negative information can’t guarantee that the person will never pose a risk.  It just says that at the time you ran the background check, there was no adverse information.  Ordinarily, this is a pretty reliable indicator for the future, but not a guarantee.

See Newsday Article

Obama Threat Suspect Had Passed Background Checks

A security guard charged in a shooting threat against President Barack Obama had cleared extensive state and federal background checks, the Port Authority said Friday.

Screening for security guards is under the spotlight after an unarmed Newark Liberty International Airport guard, John Brek, 55, of Linden, N.J., was charged with three state felony counts after he was allegedly overheard making comments while on a coffee break a day before Obama was due to fly into the airport. Brek, a six-year employee of Floral Park-based FJC Security Services, has pleaded not guilty. One charge against Brek is for knowingly receiving a stolen rifle.

New Jersey State Police licensed Brek as a security guard after he met the required criminal-background checks, the Port Authority, which has a contract with FJC, said Friday. Brek also received authority clearance to work at Newark Liberty after he cleared its required FBI and 10-year background screening, an authority official said.

But a former police officer and chief executive of a national securities firm said such screenings aren’t always enough to weed out bad seeds. Michael Evans, chief executive of security firm USPA Nationwide, said a psychological evaluation also should have been required.

“I can see how it happened,” Evans said. “People put their best foot forward in their job interview.”

Psychological evaluation isn’t required under New Jersey state security guard licensing requirements, however. Prosecutors are seeking a psychiatric evaluation as part of their case against Brek.

Evans said contractors should require private security firms to perform psychological tests on employees. “It’s very hard to know what people are actually thinking,” he said.

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Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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